Dr Heena Rachh – Principal, Global Indian International School, Abu Dhabi

A state champion in lawn tennis and accredited long-distance runner, Dr Heena Rachh has been associated with Schools and Community programmes for the last 25 years, she launched her career in education after acquiring her bachelor’s in child development from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in India. She was driven by an unflinching conviction that Education can change lives. Her first job, as a primary teacher, was in a school promoted by Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Limited, in the coastal town of Veraval in Western Saurashtra, India. Barely a year later, she found herself in the role of the virtual head of the school as she got an opportunity to take lead in day to day management for the school and prepare its strategic development plan.

 

Evolution is the name of the game, and those who fail to recognize and adapt to it proactively will be sidetracked and forgotten. Globalization is a term that connotes images of economic connectivity and business deals worldwide. In the current post-pandemic world wherein the virtual world has become the new reality, the field of education has seen an upheaval like never before. In fact, the education sector is one of the most rapidly and intensely impacted fields. The compelling wake-up call and the subsequent radical changes have necessitated the rethinking of the contemporary values that need to be inculcated in schools to cultivate the new reality of a sustainable, borderless world.

There weren’t many situations where students connected with each other globally before the pandemic, but now they are constantly connecting across the globe and are in touch with the world community like never before. Parents and teaching faculties who hitherto frowned upon the overuse of devices and the internet have now changed their stance radically and don the cap of taskmasters when the children do not use their devices for learning. In this confusing reversal of stand, the immigrants of the internet world are now, paradoxically, monitoring and guiding the natives – the students. Most of the time, the students are two steps ahead of the parents, and now parents are constantly learning more to protect and guide their children.

Earlier when the moral values needed to be integrated, the local culture and traditions played a significant role in the areas targeted for enabling moral values through teaching and learning. Currently, we are traversing in a seemingly borderless world that has shifted the focus to inculcating world values in the student community in its new avatar of modernity.

The primary value that schools have to incorporate is to instil in the students the willpower to avoid the alluring but wasteful distractions available at the click of a button. As adults, we have been challenged with a herculean task to limit our internet usage to what is relevant to our actual needs. Still, we have to make our students realize the dangers of using the internet by constantly reminding them.

Unfortunately, the virtual world is highly conducive for predators to lurk undetected in incognito mode. We, as educators, are responsible for moulding the future generation of the world and have the moral duty to counsel our students about the dangers of the virtual world and equip them to tackle these inevitably sticky situations. Naturally, the students need to be made strong at the emotional level to effectively negate the possible traps and insults that come their way. As always, however, they need to be made conscious that when the situation gets out of hand, they need to reach out to an adult they trust or available dedicated child helplines instead of taking any drastic decision by themselves.

Schools play an extremely vital role in imbibing the value of being decent mini human beings in the borderless unaccountable virtual world. Across the globe, virtual classes have been disrupted by ‘HACKERS’ who have misused the mask of anonymity. Students have to be empowered to stand up against these malicious attacks. They need to have the moral strength to report the person who caused the disturbance to the authorities.

In today’s modern borderless world, our students are very vocal in voicing their opinions. When they do so in an organized manner, it makes us proud, but we have to teach and constantly reiterate the need for maintaining online etiquettes that, if ignored, will result in disaster. Students, primarily boys, have been known to be brash, bordering on rude when they pass comments on each other. If they are not set right at the initial stage, it can soon escalate into some of them turning into cyberbullies. At school, we have to initiate systematic processes that will help identify aggressive online behaviour among our students and how they can be groomed out of these tendencies. This is the responsibility of schools to the future society.

Today’s borderless modern world has necessitated schools to groom students to have macro thinking capabilities. Gone are the days when students were groomed to excel in their particular academic field and later work up to becoming global citizens. Now, the students are already part of the world as global citizens and are exposed to worldwide developments. In a class, each child could be exposed to myriad sections of the world. We should refrain from considering this as a disadvantage. Instead, schools should have a platform where students are encouraged to share their new knowledge regarding any subject under the sun. We at GIIS always encourage innovation and entrepreneurship through interactive labs and workshops. School communities have the moral value of contributing, responsible world citizens who learn from each other.

School communities have to think differently and think of ways and means by which they can have healthy discussions across countries on topics of mutual relevance. We have an intelligent, hyperactive and enthusiastic set of students with us in today’s time who are masters of the platform through which we are teaching them. Over the centuries, very rarely has it happened that teachers have had to learn a lot from their students – we are that blessed generation. This can become our strength if we hold hands with them and together are able to walk onto the untrodden path of exciting learning outcomes. For this to happen, the educators need to set aside their egos as the older, experienced mentor and the young minds in their charge need to be inspired and trusting of their teachers. Let us keep our fingers crossed and eagerly await an as yet unseen, unparalleled limitless, borderless world founded on solid values cultivated right from one’s school years.

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